“The Sleeper Stretch” (5/5) Injury Prevention Series for the Throwing Athlete
Often times the overhead throwing athlete can present with a shift in available rotation range of motion at the shoulder joint. This pattern develops through the increased repetitions of external rotation during the cocking phase of throwing. This can result in having a decreased amount of internal rotation (the release) compared to external rotation (cocking phase).
What does the stretch do?
This stretch can increase the available internal rotation ROM and allow for a greater range for the external rotators to slow down the arm during the release phase to prevent over exertion of the external rotators that have been discussed earlier in this series.
To progress, add a towel under your elbow to involve the posterior cuff to have an added benefit to the stretch.
External Rotation at 90 degrees with Theraband (4/5): Injury Prevention Series for the Throwing Athlete
The Rationale: Strengthening the external rotators of the rotator cuff will allow your shoulder to decelerate the throwing motion more effectively. This increased strength will improve your ability to increase arm velocity by improving the allotted “speed limit” of the arm that the rotator cuff can handle.
How to progress: Stick a towel under your arm to increase the distance between your elbow and your torso. This was actually found to prevent a lack of blood flow to the supraspinatus muscle during this movement, decreasing the risk for injury.
“W” External Rotation with Single Leg on Bosu (3/5): Injury Prevention Series for the Throwing Athlete
The goal of this exercise is to strengthen the lower and middle trapezius to help the shoulder blade upwardly rotate efficiently. In the rehab and fitness world it is common to strengthen the “rotator cuff muscles” as a part of rehab and prehab programming. Knowing that the humerus is attached to the scapula, It is also important to make sure the foundation (scapula stabilizers) are strong to allow for a mobile yet secure shoulder joint.
To progress: throw in a single leg stance to force the body to work as a unit as well as simulate the leg kick as a pitcher. To make it even harder try closing your eyes. This will challenge multiple body systems by removing vision to make your body rely on proprioception and vesitbular function to keep you upright.
Exerpt from the Advanced Throwers 10:
“Cools et al reported that a lack of scapular muscle synchronicity,
particularly of the lower trapezius and middle trapezius, is a
key factor evident in shoulder pain in the overhead throwing
Elevated Internal Rotation (2/5): Injury Prevention Series for the Throwing Athlete
This exercise is designed to recruit the subscapularis muscle as shown in the animation. You will often see this exercise performed by pitchers who are warming up in the bullpen or during a rehabilitative program. This muscle is the known as the “most powerful” rotator cuff muscle and is the driving force for initiating the throwing motion.
Perform this exercise by:
1. Positioning your arm at 90 degrees from the floor and flexing your elbow to 90 degrees.
2. Grabbing the elastic band and quickly bringing your palm towards the ground to simulate the throwing motion.
3. Return to the starting position while resisting the pull from the elastic band.
TRX High Row with External Rotation (1/5) Injury Prevention Series for the Throwing Athlete
To help prevent arm injury in the throwing athlete, it is important to strengthen the scapular retractors, posterior deltoid, and external rotators to help control and decelerate the arm as it releases the ball.
Placing the arm in an elevated position (90 degrees of abduction) allows training in the motion that throwing is performed to allow strength development to transfer to the throwing motion.
The important aspect of this exercise is to slowly lower your body away to utilize eccentric contractions of the muscles shown in the video.